Live coverage of today's momentous events in Rome
6.45pm GMT: The cardinals will now go to dinner (where they are allowed to talk about the Conclave). The second round of voting will take place tomorrow morning, and we should expect more smoke at 11am. We’ll be back at 8.30am (GMT) in the morning.
6.42pm GMT: Black smoke.
6.16pm GMT: A large crowd is gathered in Rome, including people from all around the world.
6.09pm GMT: Raining all day, darkness in Rome. May be quite difficult to distinguish what colour the smoke is.
6.04pm GMT: Still large crowds in St Peter’s Square although no sign of smoke.
5.08pm GMT: We’ll be back when there’s smoke.
5.02pm GMT: According to the BBC, The nuns who will cook for the cardinals during the conclave at their Casa Santa Marta residence “are already preparing meals of soup, spaghetti, small meat kebabs and boiled vegetables”, the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera reported, according to AFP agency. “Perhaps this food, similar to that served in hospitals, will help to speed up the choice of a successor,” it concluded.
4.55pm GMT: Rocco Palmo tweets: “For what it’s worth, thinking we’ll have white smoke on Friday.”
4.47pm GMT: Cardinal Prosper Grech is giving the meditation. In a blog post last year Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith called Fr Grech, who for many years was a distinguished professor in Rome, and who taught Biblical hermeneutics at the Pontifical Biblical Institute, “possibly the most intelligent man alive”.
4.40pm GMT: When voting begins, ballot cards are distributed and each cardinal writes the name of his preferred candidate. He will walk to the altar, hold up his folded ballot paper, and place it on a plate, which he will then tip into a chalice. While doing this he will make the oath “that I am electing the one whom according to God I think ought to be elected”.
4.35pm GMT: The doors close. The Conclave has begun.
4.34pm GMT: Mgr Guido Marini, master of papal ceremonies under Benedict XVI, is about to close the doors.
4.31pm GMT: “Extra omnes” is proclaimed.
4.29pm GMT: The first papal conclave took place in January 1276 in Arezzo Cathedral, in which 13 cardinals voted. Pierre de Tarentaise was elected, taking the name Innocent V. He died five months later.
4.27pm GMT: Just a few cardinals remain to take the oath. We’ll soon hear the proclamation “Extra omnes“.
4.23pm GMT: Cardinal Luis Tagle, the second youngest cardinal, swears the oath.
4.16pm GMT: Cardinal Scherer swears the oath.
4.15pm GMT: The longest conclave of modern times took place in 1740 for the election of Benedict XIV – it took 181 days, during which 4 of the 51 electors died.
4.13pm GMT: Cardinal O’Malley swears the oath.
3.55pm GMT: Cardinals vow that if elected pope they will fulfill the Petrine ministry, defend rights of church. One by one the cardinals touch Gospels and say “So help me God and these holy Gospels that I touch with my hand.”
3.54pm GMT: Cardinals swear to follow rules and keep details of ballots secret.
The Sistine Chapel will have been swept for bugs before the Conclave begins, Vatican officials using a Faraday cage to block signals. Those working in the room will be sworn to secrecy, on pain of excommunication.
2.45pm GMT Welcome back! As we write the cardinals are moving from the Domus Sanctae Marthae, their new temporary resident, to the Apostolic Palace as they begin their final preparations for entering the conclave.
At around 3.30pm GMT the 115 cardinal-electors will process from the Pauline Chapel to the Sistine Chapel. Once inside, they will take their solemn oaths and listen to a meditation by Maltese Cardinal Prosper Grech. They are then likely to begin their first ballot.
At 6.15pm GMT, the cardinals will take part in Vespers in the Sistine Chapel. About 15 minutes later they will leave the chapel and return to the Domus Sanctae Marthae, before having dinner at 7pm GMT.
10.55am GMT: Thank you for following our live coverage of this morning’s Mass. We’ll be back at 2.45pm GMT as the cardinals begin their preparations to enter the conclave. In the meantime, you can read Fr Mark Drew’s analysis of the conclave, or watch a video of the cardinals processing into St Peter’s Basilica this morning. You can also read the prayer service the cardinals will follow this afternoon as they enter the Sistine Chapel.
10.50am GMT: Some more Twitter reaction: Jason Horowitz of the Washington Post writes: “After logistics week, #Vatican finally gets to do what it does best. This mass is something. The colors, the chanting, even the silences.”
10.43am GMT: The cardinals process out. The next procession will take place today when the conclave begins to choose the 266th pope.
10.40am GMT: Cardinal Sodano gives the Final Blessing.
10.31am GMT: Everyone receives Communion on the tongue, a legacy of Benedict’s liturgical reforms. Ordinariate priest Fr James Bradley tweets: “Cardinal Sodano isn’t just following Pope Benedict XVI by distributing Holy Communion like this, it’s the Universal Norm.”
10.27am GMT: Salt + Light Television report that the Pope Emeritus is watching the Mass from Castel Gandolfo.
10.23am GMT: Holy Communion is administered.
10.20am GMT: The Sign of Peace.
10.17am GMT: Fr David Ackerman tweets: “Cardinal Sodano wearing same chasuble as Cardinal Ratzinger wore as Dean of College of Cardinals at John Paul II’s funeral and last Conlave.”
10.17am GMT: The Mystery of Faith is proclaimed.
10.14am GMT: Cardinal Sodano elevates the Chalice.
10.10am GMT: Cardinal Sodano praying the Eucharistic prayer. Prayers of the faithful were read in several languages, including French, German, Portuguese, Swahili and Malayalam.
9.58am GMT: A couple of instant reactions to the homily. Grant Gallicho of Commonweal tweets: “Sodano’s pre-conclave homily significantly less dramatic than Ratzinger’s in 2005.”
Joshua McElwee of the National Catholic Reporter agrees: “First reaction: Sodano punted. Didn’t offer any clear advice to cardinals about to enter #conclave. Didn’t defend curia.”
Theologian Massimo Faggioli says: “Card #Sodano’s homily: no to a Pope-sheriff, defense of the international and diplomatic dimension of the Church.”
9.53am GMT: The full text of Cardinal Sodano’s homily, courtesy of Salt and Light TV:
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
“Forever I will sing the mercies of the Lord” is the hymn that resounds once again near the tomb of the Apostle Peter in this important hour of the history of the Holy Church of Christ. These are the words of Psalm 88 that have flowed from our lips to adore, give thanks and beg the Father who is in heaven. “Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo”: is the beautiful Latin text that has introduced us into contemplation of the One who always watches over his Church with love, sustaining her on her journey down through the ages, and giving her life through his Holy Spirit.
Such an interior attitude is ours today as we wish to offer ourselves with Christ to the Father who is in heaven, to thank him for the loving assistance that he always reserves for the Holy Church, and in particular for the brilliant Pontificate that he granted to us through the life and work of the 265th Successor of Peter, the beloved and venerable Pontiff Benedict XVI, to whom we renew in this moment all of our gratitude.
At the same time today, we implore the Lord, that through the pastoral solicitude of the Cardinal Fathers, He may soon grant another Good Shepherd to his Holy Church. In this hour, faith in the promise of Christ sustains us in the indefectible character of the church. Indeed Jesus said to Peter: “You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against her.” (Mt. 16:18).
My brothers, the readings of the Word of God that we have just heard can help us better understand the mission that Christ has entrusted to Peter and to his successors.
1. The Message of Love
The first reading has offered us once again a well-known messianic oracle from the second part of the book of Isaiah that is known as “the book of consolation” (Isaiah 40-66). It is a prophecy addressed to the people of Israel who are in exile in Babylon. Through this prophecy, God announces that he will send a Messiah full of mercy, a Messiah who would say: “The spirit of the Lord God is upon me… he has sent me to bring good news to the poor, to bind up the wounds of broken hearts, to proclaim liberty to captives, freedom to prisoners, and to announce a year of mercy of the Lord” (Isaiah 61:1-3).
The fulfillment of such a prophecy is fully realized in Jesus, who came into the world to make present the love of the Father for all people. It is a love which is especially felt in contact with suffering, injustice, poverty and all human frailty, both physical and moral. It is especially found in the well known encyclical of Pope John Paul II, “Dives in Misericordia” where we read: “It is precisely the mode and sphere in which love manifests itself that in biblical language is called “mercy” (n. 3).
This mission of mercy has been entrusted by Christ to the pastors of his Church. It is a mission that must be embraced by every priest and bishop, but is especially entrusted to the Bishop of Rome, Shepherd of the universal Church. It is in fact to Peter that Jesus said: “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?… Feed my lambs (John 21:15). In his commentary on these words, St. Augustine wrote: “May it be therefore the task of love to feed the flock of the Lord” (In Iohannis Evangelium, 123, 5; PL 35, 1967).
It is indeed this love that urges the Pastors of the Church to undertake their mission of service of the people of every age, from immediate charitable work even to the highest form of service, that of offering to every person the light of the Gospel and the strength of grace.
This is what Benedict XVI wrote in his Lenten Message for this year (#3). “Sometimes we tend, in fact, to reduce the term “charity” to solidarity or simply humanitarian aid. It is important, however, to remember that the greatest work of charity is evangelization, which is the “ministry of the word”. There is no action more beneficial – and therefore more charitable – towards one’s neighbour than to break the bread of the word of God, to share with him the Good News of the Gospel, to introduce him to a relationship with God: evangelization is the highest and the most integral promotion of the human person. As the Servant of God Pope Paul VI wrote in the Encyclical Populorum Progressio, the proclamation of Christ is the first and principal contributor to development (cf. n. 16).”
2. The message of unity
The second reading is taken from the letter to the Ephesians., written by the Apostle Paul in this very city of Rome during his first imprisonment (62-63 A.D.) It is a sublime letter in which Paul presents the mystery of Christ and his Church. While the first part is doctrinal (ch.1-3), the second part, from which today’s reading is taken, has a much more pastoral tone (ch. 4-6). In this part Paul teaches the practical consequences of the doctrine that was previously presented and begins with a strong appeal for church unity: “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (Eph 4,1-3).
St. Paul then explains that in the unity of the Church, there is a diversity of gifts, according to the manifold grace of Christ, but this diversity is in function of the building up of the one body of Christ. “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up (Eph 4:11-12).
In our text, St. Paul teaches that each of us must work to build up the unity of the Church, so that “From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work (Eph 4:16). Each of us is therefore called to cooperate with the Successor of Peter, the visible foundation of such an ecclesial unity.
3. The Mission of the Pope
Brothers and sisters in Christ – today’s Gospel takes us back to the Last Supper, when the Lord said to his Apostles: “This is my commandment: that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12). The text is linked to the first reading from the Messiah’s actions in the first reading from the prophet Isaiah, reminding us that the fundamental attitude of the Pastors of the Church is love. It is this love that urges us to offer our own lives for our brothers and sisters. Jesus himself tells us: “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:12).
The basic attitude of every Shepherd is therefore to lay down one’s life for his sheep (John 10:15). This also applies to the Successor of Peter, Pastor of the Universal Church. As high and universal the pastoral office, so much greater must be the charity of the Shepherd. In the heart of every Successor of Peter, the words spoken one day by the Divine Master to the humble fisherman of Galilee have resounded: “Diligis me plus his? Pasce agnos meos… pasce oves meas”; “Do you love me more than these? Feed my lambs… feed my sheep!” (John 21:15-17)
In the wake of this service of love toward the Church and towards all of humanity, the last popes have been builders of so many good initiatives for people and for the international community, tirelessly promoting justice and peace. Let us pray that the future Pope may continue this unceasing work on the world level.
Moreover, this service of charity is part of the intimate nature of the Church. Pope Benedict XVI reminded us of this fact when he said: “The service of charity is also a constitutive element of the Church’s mission and an indispensable expression of her very being; (Apostolic Letter in the form of a Motu Proprio Intima Ecclesiae natura, November 11, 2012, introduction; cf. Deus caritas est, n. 25).
It is a mission of charity that is proper to the Church, and in a particular way is proper to the Church of Rome, that in the beautiful expression of St. Ignatius of Antioch, is the Church that “presides in charity” “praesidet caritati” (cf. Ad Romanos (preface).; Lumen Gentium, n. 13).
My brothers, let us pray that the Lord will grant us a Pontiff who will embrace this noble mission with a generous heart. We ask this of the Lord, through the intercession of Mary most holy, Queen of the Apostles and of all the Martyrs and Saints, who through the course of history, made this Church of Rome glorious through the ages. Amen.
9.40am Cardinal Sodano leads the singing of the Creed.
9.45am GMT: Cardinal Sodano is now reflecting on the Last Supper.
“The basic attitude of every shepherd is to lay down his life for his sheep. And this applies to Peter’s successor, the universal pastor.”
“The words spoken by the Master to the humble fishermen of Galilee resound – ‘Do you love me more than these?’.”
Recent popes have been tireless campaigners for peace, the Cardinal says.
Cardinal Sodano praises Caritas in veritate, Benedict XVI’s third encyclical.
9.35am GMT: Cardinal Sodano gives thanks to our “beloved and venerable pontiff, Benedict XVI”, provoking huge applause. “We implore the Lord” to “soon grant another Good Shepherd to his Holy Church.”
Cardinal Sodano says: “This is what Benedict XVI wrote in his Lenten message this year: ‘Sometimes we reduce the term charity to solidarity or simply humanitarian aid. It is important to remember that the greatest work of charity is evangelisation.There is no action more beneficial and therfore charitable than to… introduce [one’s neighbour] to the word of God.'”
“Each of us is called to co-operate with the successor to Peter,” he says.
9.33am GMT: Cardinal Sodano begins the Homily.
9.29am GMT: The Gospel is from St John: 15, 9-17:
Jesus said to his disciples:
‘As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments you will re- main in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my own joy may be in you and your joy be complete. This is my commandment: love one another, as I have loved you. A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends, if you do what I command you. I shall not call you servants any more, because a servant does not know his master’s business; I call you friends, be- cause I have made known to you every- thing I have learnt from my Father. You did not choose me: no, I chose you; and I commissioned you to go out and to bear fruit, fruit that will last; and then the Fa- ther will give you anything you ask him in my name. What I command you is to love one another.’
9.27am GMT: The Gospel Acclamation is “Praise to you, O Christ, king of eternal glory!”
9.25am GMT: The second reading is being read in Spanish, from St Paul to the Ephesians:
To some, his gift was that they should be apostles; to some, prophets; to some, evangelists; to some, pastors and teach- ers; so that the saints together make a unity in the work of service, building up the body of Christ. In this way we are all to come to unity in our faith and in our knowledge of the Son of God, until we become the perfect Man, fully mature with the fullness of Christ himself.
Then we shall not be children any longer, or tossed one way and another and car- ried along by every wind of doctrine, at the mercy of all the tricks men play and their cleverness in practising deceit. If we live by the truth and in love, we shall grow in all ways into Christ, who is the head by whom the whole body is fitted and joined together, every joint adding its own strength, for each separate part to work according to its function. So the body grows until it has built itself up, in love.
9.23am GMT: The leading Catholic blogger Fr John Zuhlsdorf is offering an expert guide to the Mass Pro eligendo Summo Pontifice here.
9.22am GMT: The Responsorial Psalm is being sung, “I will sing for ever of your love, O Lord”.
9.19am GMT: First reading. A young American priest is reading the first reading from the prophet Isaiah:
The spirit of the lord has been given to me, for the lord has anointed me. He has sent me to bring good news to the poor, to bind up hearts that are broken; to proclaim liberty to captives, freedom to those in prison; to proclaim a year of favour from the lord, a day of vengeance for our God; to comfort all those who mourn and to give them for ashes a garland; for mourning robe the oil of gladness, for despondency, praise. But you, you will be named ‘priests of the lord’, they will call you ‘ministers of our God’. i reward them faithfully and make an everlasting covenant with them. Their race will be famous throughout the nations, their descendants throughout the peoples. all who see them will admit that they are a race whom the lord has blessed.
9.15am GMT: The Mass begins with the Entrance Antiphon: The Lord is the strength of his people, a saving refuge for the one he has appointed.
9.10am GMT: Cardinal Angelo Sodano is censing the altar.
9.03am GMT: The cardinals are processing solemnly towards the altar dressed in red vestments.
9.00am GMT: Welcome to our live blog of the first day of this week’s conclave.
Right now, the cardinals are gathering in St Peter’s Basilica to celebrate the Missa Pro Eligendo Romano Pontifice (Mass for the Election of the Roman Pontiff). You can download the Mass booklet in PDF format here and watch the Mass live on the Vatican website here.
The Mass is a key moment in the preparations for the election of a new pope. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger famously preached a forceful homily at the last Missa Pro Eligendo Romano Pontifice in 2005, coining the term “dictatorship of relativism”.
Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Dean of the College of Cardinals, will celebrate this morning’s Mass and deliver the homily. At 85, he is too old to participate in the conclave, but is likely to offer an assessment of the challenges that the next pope will confront.
Here is a run-down of what’s happening today:
From 9.00am to 10.30am, the members of the College of Cardinals attend the Missa Pro Eligendo Romano Pontifice in St Peter’s Basilica.
At 2.45pm, the cardinals will transfer from their residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae, to the Apostolic Palace.
At 3.30pm, the 115 cardinal-electors will process from the Pauline Chapel to the Sistine Chapel.
At 3.45pm, the cardinals will take their oaths in the Sistine Chapel and listen to a meditation by Cardinal Prosper Grech. They are likely to then begin the first ballot.
At 6.15pm, the cardinals will take part in Vespers in the Sistine Chapel.
At 6.30pm, the cardinals will transfer from the Sistine Chapel to the Domus Sanctae Marthae, before having dinner at 7pm.